After a four year run, Loras College concluded its Inspiring Lives & Leadership campaign on Aug. 31. This initiative raised the most money in the college’s 178-year history and will go to help the financial needs of the college in a variety of ways over the next few years.
The campaign started as a fundraising initiative and a catalyst to reunite alums from Loras in the fall of 2013. The campaign was set at $75 million: the highest fundraising goal set at Loras. That goal was quickly met within a matter of two years. From there, the Board of Regents decided to increase the goal by $25 million. In August of 2017 Loras finished their campaign, surpassing their goal once again. The campaign brought in a grand total of $106 million, contributed by 23,000 benefactors, the majority of them being Loras alums.
“It’s been incredible to visit with alumni throughout the campaign and listen to their testaments about why they donated,” said Loras College President Jim Collins. “There aren’t many places that can announce they have achieved a campaign goal with such a powerful alumni base. There’s a sense of pride in the Loras community because of that.”
The primary focus of the Inspiring Lives & Leadership campaign is to provide scholarship and financial assistance to current and future Duhawks, and 125 newly endowed scholarships have been established for students. These new scholarships are primarily funded by alumni who want to contribute more to a Loras student’s education and provide assistance to aid their financial needs. These new scholarships can be found within different academic programs and majors. For the more common scholarships, such as the Breitbach Catholic Thinkers and Leaders program and the Loras Merit Award, amounts are determined on an annualized basis. The caps for those scholarships may be raised, but if so, other factors such as tuition rates and other grants must be taken into account.
“We want to make sure we have grants and awards that work with state and federal aid so that student tuition continues to be reasonable,” Collins said. “It’s important to us that we provide a Loras education that is cost-effective.”
Despite the focus on increasing scholarships, they were not the exclusive purpose of this campaign. Other results can be seen in facilities across campus. The newly dedicated tennis courts, more up-to-date labs and classrooms in the Science Hall, the media lab in Hoffmann Hall, renovations to Christ the King Chapel, and the renovation of Keane Hall’s third floor all benefited from the fundraising campaign. Future plans include the renovation of the Rock Bowl.
This campaign, like many other events at Loras, wasn’t a one-person job. Alumni reunited across the country with benefactors, but a number of Loras faculty were also involved in crafting and supporting the campaign.
“Between the MBA program creating the Loras Poll, as well as our Advancement Team and Alumni Relations committee, many helped to unite alumni across the country, coordinate visits, and set up events. We couldn’t have done this without faculty helping to drive that,” Collins remarked. “It took a village.”
The effects of the money raised also help keep Loras as an affordable college when compared to other universities. After looking at financial aid, the average state university’s tuition has risen 4% in the last five years. Loras’ tuition has only raised 1% in that same five year period. Loras compares better in the net in terms of what students pay, as well as the graduation rate, which has consistently stayed at 99% for the past few years. Collins compared the price of attending Loras to buying an airline ticket: no one pays the same price for the same flight.
“The impact of this campaign is also tangible in the sense that our scholarships make the difference for students when they decide where to go to school,” Collins emphasized. “The financial aid packages we provide make our cost of tuition no higher than attending a state university in Iowa.”
In terms of future fundraising, Collins will continue to meet with alumni and friends and work on advancing programs for which Loras needs financial support. Once those initiatives are in the works, another fundraising campaign will occur. However, Loras’ president has a message for all Duhawks, current and future.
“Count your blessings,” Collins said. “As a whole, students who are here are blessed in ways that we take for granted. And when you consider less than a third of the country has a college degree and Duhawks will be part of the one third that does, Loras gives students an advantage that most other places don’t, and at a pretty reasonable price.”